Human Milk Composition and Children Nutrition: Latest Advances and Prospects

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Pediatric Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 July 2024 | Viewed by 5023

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Chiara Peila
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
SC Neonatology U., Department of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Interests: human milk; preterm nutrition; donor human milk; fortification human milk

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The mother’s own milk is always considered the first choice for nutrition of all neonates, including preterm infants; in fact, it is tailored to meet infants’ specific nutritional requirements. Furthermore, human milk is a “dynamic” system: its composition changes and is influenced by several conditions, such as term–preterm delivery, maternal diet, metabolic abnormalities and pathologies. It is well-known that breastfeeding improves several outcomes, both in the short and the long term, as a result of specific biological active components and immunomodulatory factors.

This dynamic and bioactive fluid allows mother–infant signalling over lactation, guiding the infant in developmental and physiological processes. It has been proposed that nutrition signals during the early postnatal period may influence metabolic developmental pathways and induce permanent changes to metabolic disease susceptibility. It exerts protection and life-long biological effects, playing a crucial role in promoting healthy growth and optimal cognitive development.

However, the complexity of human milk composition and the synergistic mechanisms responsible for its beneficial health effects have not yet been unravelled.

Filling this knowledge gap will shed light on the biology of the developing infant and will contribute to the optimization of infant feeding, particularly that of the most vulnerable infants.

The current Special Issue aims to welcome original studies and literature reviews further exploring the biological role and function of human milk components, as well as the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects associated with breastfeeding. Furthermore, research focused on evidence-based interventions to improve both breastfeeding duration and women’s breastfeeding experience is also welcome.

Dr. Chiara Peila
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • human milk composition
  • breastfeeding
  • human milk benefits
  • infant feeding
  • newborn nutrition

Published Papers (4 papers)

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14 pages, 1134 KiB  
Article
Sampling Procedures for Estimating the Infant Intake of Human Milk Leptin, Adiponectin, Insulin, Glucose, and Total Lipid
Nutrients 2024, 16(3), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16030331 - 23 Jan 2024
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Abstract
Limited attention is given to the efficacy of protocols for the estimation of infant intake of milk components when investigating their impact on infant outcomes. We compared the actual measured intake of human milk components with estimations derived from 15 protocols to determine [...] Read more.
Limited attention is given to the efficacy of protocols for the estimation of infant intake of milk components when investigating their impact on infant outcomes. We compared the actual measured intake of human milk components with estimations derived from 15 protocols to determine the most reliable approach for estimating intake of HM leptin, adiponectin, insulin, glucose, and total lipid. Twenty mothers who were 3–5 months postpartum completed a 24 h milk profile study with pre-/post-feed milk samples collection. The true infant intake (control group) based on 24 h milk intake (MI) was compared to estimated infant intakes using concentrations from five sampling protocols that were multiplied by one of true infant MI, considered mean MI (800 mL), or global mean MI (766 mL). The mean measured concentrations of six samples (three sets of pre- and post-feed samples, from morning (06:00–09:00), afternoon (13:00–16:00), and evening (19:00–22:00)) multiplied by the true infant MI, mean considered MI, and global mean MI produced the most accurate estimates of infant intake of these components. Therefore, in the absence of 24 h measurements and sampling, a sampling protocol comprising three sets of pre-/post-feed samples provides the most reliable infant intake estimates of HM leptin, adiponectin, insulin, glucose, and total lipid. Full article
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9 pages, 544 KiB  
Article
Preeclampsia and Its Impact on Human Milk Activin A Concentration
Nutrients 2023, 15(19), 4296; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15194296 - 09 Oct 2023
Viewed by 883
Abstract
Background: It is known that preeclampsia affects lactogenesis. However, data on the effects of this pathology on human milk neurobiomarker composition are not available. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of this gestational pathology on activin A levels, a [...] Read more.
Background: It is known that preeclampsia affects lactogenesis. However, data on the effects of this pathology on human milk neurobiomarker composition are not available. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of this gestational pathology on activin A levels, a neurobiomarker known to play an important role in the development and protection of the central nervous system. Methods: The women recruited were divided in two different study groups: preeclamptic or normotensive women. All the human milk samples were collected using the same procedure. Activin A was quantified using an Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. To investigate the effect of preeclampsia on the activin A concentration in the three lactation phases, a mixed linear model with a unistructural covariance structure, with the mother as the random effect, and fixed effects were performed. Results: Activin A was detected in all samples. There were no significant differences between preeclamptic and normotensive women. The only significant effect is related to the lactation phase: the difference between colostrum and mature milk (p < 0.01) was significant. In conclusion, these results allow us to affirm that breast milk’s beneficial properties are maintained even if preeclampsia occurs. Full article
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12 pages, 3780 KiB  
Article
Circadian Variation in Human Milk Hormones and Macronutrients
Nutrients 2023, 15(17), 3729; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15173729 - 25 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2238
Abstract
There is an inadequate understanding of the daily variations in hormones and macronutrients in human milk (HM), and sample collection protocols vary considerably from study to study. To investigate changes in these milk components across 24 h, 22 lactating women collected small milk [...] Read more.
There is an inadequate understanding of the daily variations in hormones and macronutrients in human milk (HM), and sample collection protocols vary considerably from study to study. To investigate changes in these milk components across 24 h, 22 lactating women collected small milk samples before and after each breastfeed or expression from each breast. Test weighing was used to determine the volume of HM consumed in each feed. The concentrations of leptin, adiponectin, insulin, fat, and glucose were measured, and the intakes were calculated. A linear mixed model was fitted to assess within-feed and circadian variation in HM feed volume and concentration, and intakes of several components. The average infant intake of HM was 879 g/24 h. Significantly higher pre-feed concentrations were found for adiponectin and glucose and lower post-feed concentrations were found for insulin and fat. Significant circadian rhythms were displayed for leptin, adiponectin, insulin, glucose (both concentration and intake), fat concentration, and milk volume. These findings demonstrate the necessity for setting up standardised and rigorous sampling procedures that consider both within-feed and circadian variations in HM components to gain a more precise understanding of the impacts of these components on infant health, growth and development. Full article
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9 pages, 885 KiB  
Perspective
Fresh Parent’s Own Milk for Preterm Infants: Barriers and Future Opportunities
Nutrients 2024, 16(3), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16030362 - 26 Jan 2024
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Abstract
While direct at-the-breast feeding is biologically optimal, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admission due to infant immaturity or illness often necessitates the expression and storage of parent’s milk. The provision of freshly expressed (never stored) parent’s own milk to preterm infants is not [...] Read more.
While direct at-the-breast feeding is biologically optimal, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admission due to infant immaturity or illness often necessitates the expression and storage of parent’s milk. The provision of freshly expressed (never stored) parent’s own milk to preterm infants is not widely prioritized, and this article provides an exploration of NICU practices and their implications for feeding premature or ill infants with parent’s own milk. In this article, we discuss the potential biological benefits of fresh parent’s own milk, highlighting its dynamic components and the changes incurred during storage. Research suggests that fresh milk may offer health advantages over stored milk. The authors advocate for further research, emphasizing the need for standardized definitions. Research is needed on the biological impact of fresh milk, both short- and long-term, as well as defining and understanding healthcare economics when using fresh milk. Full article
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